Austria has begun settling claims to the Mauerbach Collection, a group of art objects confiscated by the Nazis during World War II and hidden in a 17th-Century monastery in Austria since 1955. The collection was dubbed a "legacy of shame" in a December, 1984, ArtNews magazine article credited with spurring Austria's tardy attempt to return the works. An Austrian Finance Ministry spokesman said claims to 177 of 1,170 items, looted mostly from Jews during the Holocaust, had been ruled valid and that the objects would be returned shortly. In cases where rightful ownership cannot be determined, items will be sold at auction with proceeds going to a charity for survivors of Nazi persecution. Among the first to be returned: 15 paintings, books by Gorki and Goethe, the collected works of Lord Byron and librettos to Richard Wagner's operas.
RICK SHERWOOD Arts and entertainment reports from The Times, national and international news services and the nation's press
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